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#TBT: That ‘net’ thing could be huge for cell phones; FCC wants input on public safety spectrum … 21 years ago this week

“The internet is the killer app” for wireless data; FCC asks for input on public safety spectrum needs … 21 years ago this week

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

That Internet thing could be huge for cell phones 
“The Internet is the killer app!” declared futurist George Gilder at the Wireless Apps ’95 show hosted by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association last fall in Las Vegas. He was referring to the long-sought application for wireless data–a holy grail of sorts–that would be so pervasive and appealing as to break the industry out of vertical business segments and lead it into the vast consumer marketplace. It’s easy to see why the internet-access application is such an ideal champion for this quest. Driven by the graphical World Wide Web interface, the Internet has become the world’s largest computer network with more than 15 million users worldwide. And there’s more than one way to surf the ‘Net. Companies throughout the high-tech ecology are liberally applying “Internet” to their business plans as if it were a magical incantation with the power to conjure up market share and profitability-or at least higher equity valuations. Not since the “Information Super Highway” reared its head three years ago has a telecommunications concept gained such rapid and powerful currency. … Read More

Federal Communications Commission asks for input on communications needs of public safety
The Federal Communications Commission has given the wireless community in general, and the public-safety arena in particular, an extra-long comment period to ponder the agency’s thoughts on the future spectrum and service needs of that mobile communications sector. In addition, the notice proposes to adopt several definitions and scenarios put forth by the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee and by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In an extensive notice of proposed rulemaking released last week, the commission “initiates an overall evaluation and assessment of public safety wireless communications,” which could include such approaches as “requiring more efficient use of current public safety spectrum, reallocating additional spectrum for public safety uses and facilitating the use of commercial service providers for increased communications capacity.” … Read more

38 million Japanese handyphone customers were expected by 2010
The Clinton administration has said Japan will consider opening its personal handyphone system equipment market, a potential breakthrough for American wireless suppliers. Last week’s announcement came as the United States completed its annual review of telecommunications trade agreements with Japan, Korea and Mexico. … Personal handyphones, a less expensive but technically inferior alternative to cellular phones, have become a smashing success in Tokyo and Sopparo since their introduction last summer. Service was supposed to start last fall in Osaka. PHS uses microcells, which are smaller and less powerful than cellular base stations, and are located every couple of blocks. PHS systems work well for pedestrians in densely populated urban areas, but they lack the sophistication to switch vehicular calls from cell to cell. Early projections are for 38 million PHS customers by 2010, a potentially huge market for American equipment manufacturers. … Read more

Voice-activated dialing offered to Philly customers, just $5 a month
Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile said it is offering TalkDial voice-activated dialing service to its Philadelphia tri-state region customers. The company said customers will be able to place cellular phone calls by speaking the phone number, or speaking the name of a person or place they regularly call. The monthly fee for the service is $5, which includes unlimited voice-activated dialing and a 30-day money back guarantee. The company also announced it plans to install an Automated Customer Support System in the second quarter 1996. The system is designed to help remove all the paper processes used by the customer service department and provide access to electronic manuals and problem resolution software, said Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile. … Read more

Prepaid markets are the cool, new thing
Prepaid cellular represents a huge opportunity for carriers, as demonstrated by the flood of prepaid services inundating the marketplace. More significantly, however, prepaid cellular may prove in itself a new paradigm for conducting consumer business in wireless. Industry estimates show between 20 percent and 30 percent of people who try signing up for cellular service either are rejected outright or required to fork over a large deposit due to poor credit. So indeed carriers are excited with the prospect of winning those customers they once turned away, particularly those carriers who previously had saturated a market, said Janet Constantin, analyst at the Yankee Group in Boston. Alongside carriers’ goal of reaching the credit-impaired are a number of ancillary applications, some happenstance. Perhaps number one is fraud. An account that is a prepaid account can only be defrauded to the dollar amount of the customer’s remaining balance, whether a said user has committed subscription fraud or a legitimate user is cloned. Prepaid systems not capable of tracking roaming do not allow roaming. … Read more

First-of-its-kind study looks at short-term RF exposure from ‘pocket telephones’
A report in the May issue of Epidemiology cast doubt on whether pocket telephones pose fatal health consequences for consumers in the short run, but leaves open the question of whether long-term use of phones can cause cancer or other maladies. The epidemiologic study, the first of its kind connected to radio frequency radiation exposure from cellular telephones, compared mortality rates among a quarter million portable and mobile cellular telephone customers with accounts at least three years old and found no increase in deaths among pocket telephone subscribers. In fact, the research of Boston-based Epidemiology Resources Inc. found the mortality rate in 1994 of portable phone users was 86 percent of that of mobile telephone customers. The research was overseen by Kenneth Rothman, a epidemiologist with the firm who is part of the $25 million research effort the wireless industry is funding. … Read more

Check out RCR Wireless News’ Archives for more stories from the past.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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